Ambrose, His Dog, and the Calf

Not Smart Enough for College (56)

My grandfather, Ambrose Call was born on his father’s farm in Bountiful, Utah, on February 29, 1888. Being a farm boy, his father expected him to work hard and taught him what he expected from farm boys.


From a young age he was given daily chores and, using his own words, he described his childhood like this. “I grew up as other boys did at that time … I did the work that farm boys usually did … I grew up and was milking cows, feeding hogs, and feeding horses … I used to drive the cows when I was six years of age, riding my pony, taking the cows to pasture and then going back again at night.” In addition, he learned to mow, harvest and stack hay, to plow straight furrows as he followed the horse or donkey, and to do  many other chores. 


Even though Ambrose and his brothers and sisters worked hard, they also found time for play and even a little mischief. One such example occurred on a beautiful, lazy Sunday afternoon when Ambrose was nine or ten. He and a couple of brothers decided to hide from their dad in order to avoid church.


Israel Call, Ambrose’s father, was a very strict man and very devoted to his faith and expected his family to go to church every Sunday. I never learned where the boys hid but what I do know is that this plan was well thought out and they were excited as they watched their family climb in the wagon and their father flip the horses’ reins and head off to church without them. 


As soon as the family wagon disappeared, the fun began. The boys started in the corral where their dad kept a yearling calf. They challenged each other to hop on and ride it. Ambrose’s older brother, Schyler, asserted his right as the oldest and was the first to hop on, expecting to show his younger brothers how to ride a calf. It was a hot day and the calf had its own mind about expending her energy to throw him off so she disappointed Schyler and the other boys and just stood there.


Ambrose used his quick wit and came up with an idea to get that calf moving. He pointed at the calf and yelled “sic’em” to his dog, who ran at the stubborn animal, barking and nipping at her legs, causing it to start bucking, which surprised Schyler and threw him off, but the fun had just started.


Ambrose thought this was a great prank and started belly laughing when Schyler landed in a pile of fresh manure. It became even more enjoyable for the brothers as they watched Schyler try to get away from that calf and work his way out of the corral. The calf was obviously upset after being disturbed on a quiet Sunday afternoon and wanted Schyler to pay the ultimate price of humiliation, so every time he tried to stand up it butted him in the seat of his pants and knocked him down. He finally made it out, but it wasn’t easy.


I don’t know if Israel Call saw the humor in this story, or if he ever even learned about it. I hope he was able to relax and laugh with the boys about their misadventures, and that we can too with our families. Families grow closer when we can laugh together and feel free to share our experiences with each other and what we learned from them. 


Here's to Failing Forward,


Cal and Anne

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